Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Hi everybody,

The Hertford Buddhist Meditation Group meets every Tuesday and Thursday (starting 29th June 2017) evening at the Millbridge Rooms.

We don't update this site very often as we focus on updating our other pages:

Please join our meetup group at: www.meetup.com/Hertford-Buddhist-Meditation/
Please like our Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/HertfordMeditation/
Please also look at our main website: http://hertfordbuddhistgroup.co.uk/ and also look at the website for the whole of Hertfordshire https://www.hertsbuddhistmeditation.co.uk/ 


And please drop in one Tuesday evening - Doors open at 7.15pm for a prompt 7.30pm start. Newcomers and beginners are always very welcome on Tuesdays.

Regulars are also welcome to come to our Thursday night class starting at the same time.

Here are a few pics from recent events:




Suvarnagarbha's visit to the Strawbale





Nandavajra's visit to Hertford





Taradasa's visit to the Strawbale


Monday, 26 May 2014

Come to Hertford for Buddhist Meditation

If you are a beginner and want to learn about meditation and Buddhism, or if you have experience with another group and want to try something different, come along to the Millbridge Room, opposite  Hertford Theatre on Tuesday evenings at 7.15pm. We start at 7.30 and, after introductions practice one of the foundation meditations, either the Mindfulness of Breathing or the Development of Loving Kindness. You can then enjoy a friendly chat and free refreshments, before joining in a with a talk and discussion about an aspect of the Buddha's teaching. We finish at 9.30pm and ask everyone to make a contribution (£5) towards paying the rent for the room. So we are looking forward to seeing you next Tuesday!
Rob.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Online pamphlet about becoming a mitra

For anyone interested in taking the next step and becoming a mitra, then check out this excellent online pamphlet explaining it:

http://issuu.com/thebuddhistcentre/docs/becoming_a_mitra_revised/1?e=0

If you have any questions, please ask Rob, Keith or Dhiyampati

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Neil's mitra ceremony is on 15th September

Many of you will know Neil who has been coming along for about 6 months now.

Just to let you know he is becoming a mitra in a ceremony at Cambridge Buddhist Centre on Padmasambhava Day http://www.cambridgebuddhistcentre.com/events/event_details.php?eid=3151  on Sunday 15th September.

That should be a good day (or afternoon, or evening) out, so if you have been thinking about visiting the Cambridge Centre, this would be a great time to go.

By the way, "mitra" just means "friend", and you can read an article about its significance here: http://www.cambridgebuddhistcentre.com/resources/files/MitraBookletWeb.pdf . If you are interested in knowing more, please ask myself, Rob or Dhiyampati.

Heartful congratulations to Neil for taking this step.

Keith

Sunday, 28 July 2013

New email address

To contact us, click on the contact tab at the top, and you can see our email addresses.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

BBC documentary about the life of the Buddha

For those that missed all or part of the film of the BBC documentary about the life of the Buddha, you can see it here on Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YsEksMEE2Eg

It is 50 minutes long.

It is part historic documentary, part re-enactment, and part analysis by experts. I don't think any of them were from Triratna, but they seemed very knowledgeable.

Like most BBC documentaries it gives a very objective and rational account of his life without any spin.

Highly recommended.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The 5 precepts

I am leading the class at Hertford on the 16th April.

After the meditation, we will begin a discussion on the 5 precepts that are gateways to happiness, joy, and lightness of being:


1) loving kindness,

2) open handed generosity,

3) stillness, simplicity and contentment

4) truthful communication

5) mindfulness clear and radiant


I hope to see you all there!

Keith

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Why not like us on Facebook?

I have recently brought the Facebook page back to life

http://www.facebook.com/HertfordMeditation

It is very easy for me to update with articles, videos and photos. It is also very easy for people to like, share and comment on each post.

There is a reason Facebook has over a billion monthly active users. It must be doing something right!

I have just put a video up there about the mindfulness based approaches that the London Buddhist Centre are teaching for people suffering from depression and addiction.

I am also going to post a video on there about the importance of volunteering, and some videos with volunteers at the London Centre.

Don't worry! We haven't any need for volunteers at the Hertford group!

But I just think it is good for people to see what it is like at some of the other centres, so we know that we are all connected in some way to a much larger movement.

Anyway.

There are 20 people aleady who "like" the Facebook page.

If you could visit it, like the page, and maybe interact a bit with it (like, comment, or share), it would be much appreciated. That way we can stay connected to the energy of the group throughout the week.

thanks a lot

Keith

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Why not visit our page at meetup.com

You may not be aware, but we have a page at meetup.com where we try and let people know what is going on.

Go to http://www.meetup.com/Hertford-Buddhist-Meditation/

It is totally free, and people often leave little comments about whether they are coming to the next meeting, or what they thought of the last one.

It just to helps build our spiritual community a bit, by giving people a chance to communicate with each other inbetween classes.

You can leave public messages, and also privately send emails to the other members of the group etc

There are a total of 19 people who have joined our meetup.com group at the moment.

Tuesday March 19th - discussion on ethics


On Tuesday March 19th, I will be leading the class, as Rob is going to visit the London Buddhist Centre.

As well as the normal meditations, I will be leading a discussion based around the chapter on ethics in Chris Pauling's book, "Introducing Buddhism".

For some people, the word "ethics" has negative or boring connotations. It is probably a bad translation of what we are talking about. A conscious code of behaviour in our everyday lives can be a gateway into a happy and joyous life.

The opening paragraph of this chapter states:

"Buddhism is a practical tradition. It does not just offer an inspiring vision of what a human being can become. It also provides a large number of effective techniques and practices to help us grow towards this ideal and make it a real force in our everyday lives"

Everyone is very welcome to come along.

Links to some articles about meditation


I am reposting some articles from our friends at the Hornchurch Buddhist Group that may be of interest:

Here is a link to a handout on Establishing a Regular Meditation Practice
This is a brief summary of the traditional categories of hindrances, the traditional similes for them and some suggestions for working with them. It is good to learn to begin to recognise the hindrances as and when they arise as this then puts one in a in a better position to counter them and move toward deeper absorption in meditation.
One traditional antidote that couldn’t be fitted fully on to on to the sheet is to “Go for Refuge”, which means essentially to call upon one’s confidence and faith in the ideal, the teachings and practices, and in one’s own potential and abilities. The Three Refuges are synonymous with the Three Jewels of Buddhism and are the Buddha, being the ideal of Enlightenment to which we aspire, his teaching and the path of practice known as the Dharma and the Buddhist community known as the Sangha. See also Saluting the Shrine  and a Rough Guide to Buddhism.


Monday, 11 March 2013

2 order members are coming to lead it 12th March

We have just heard that 2 order members (Dridhakarin and Diyampati) are coming from Cambridge to lead the class tomorrow (on 12th March), so it should be a good night.


Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Parinirvana celebrations tonight

You are welcome to come to the Tuesday 19th February meditation class at the Millbridge room in Hertford for a celebration of the Buddhist festival of Parinirvana, the final passing away of the Buddha to complete and perfect Enlightenment.

There will be readings of stories from the last days of the Buddha, we will chant mantras and, of course practise meditation.

It'll be a different evening from the usual format, so see you on Tuesday,

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Article about metta bhavana (loving kindness) meditation

I found this great article about the metta via my friends at the Hornchurch Buddhist Group http://hornchurchbuddhistgroup.org.uk/ .

The article is an excerpt from Kamalashila's book on meditation. Kamalashila is a very experienced and highly respected meditation teacher in Triratna.

Sitting barefoot under a tree is optional!


Metta Bhavana Meditation: Goodwill, Loving-kindness
metta bhavana
brief description
Here’s a brief description of the stages of the Metta Bhavana practice to give an idea. Then follows a more detailed explanation. After that, we’ll discuss some related issues. 
Prepare for the meditation. Sit quietly, settle down, connect with your body and with whatever you are feeling and thinking. 

  • cultivate metta for yourself. Consider your life and experience how it feels to be you. Feel the truth of your experience, perhaps joyous, perhaps sad. Acknowledging whatever feelings are present, wish yourself happiness. Maybe say to yourself, ‘May I be well and happy'. Then just keep re-setting your attention back on to that wish. (5+ minutes.) 
  •  
  • For the rest of the article visit

    http://www.kamalashila.co.uk/blog-2/styled/

Friday, 8 February 2013

After a year or two of inactivity, we have started to update this blog again. We hope to update it fairly frequently, or at least much more frequently than before.

You might find the resources page of particular interest. There are a few documents, which you might find useful, including one about "Saluting the Shrine".


Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Newcomers are welcome!

If lately, you have been feeling like you need to practice a relaxation technique, or find some peace of mind and make it a regular part of your life, why not try meditation? Meditation is a way to achieve calm and concentration which has been tried and tested for many years. At the Millbridge Room in Maidenhead Yard we practice meditation techniques that were taught by the Buddha in India over 2,500 years ago. Yet these same practices are just as effective today as they were then. Regular practice of the Mindfulness of Breathing and the Development of Loving Kindness will enable you to stay calm, feel less stressed, be more patient and more understanding of others.

Newcomers are welcome at our free Tuesday evening meditation meetings to try meditation and ask for advice from experienced meditators. You can come along to the first session which starts at 7.30pm (doors open at 7.15pm) and is designed for people who are new to meditation as well as people who have some experience. You can stay for the tea break which provides a chance to socialise and discuss any questions that come up. You are free to leave or stay on for the second session which begins about 8.30pm. This often consists of a talk and a discussion of an aspect of the teaching of the Buddha - the ethical path, meditation practice and the development of spiritual wisdom.

We do not seek to change you - if you practice meditation you will change yourself. Friends may say that you are different, that you have changed for the better. Meditation will provide you with a means to grow and develop, perhaps releasing previously unrealised talents, perhaps even changing your life. So meditation is best practised in contact with a society or Sangha who can offer you the essential support to continue and develop your practice.

At the Hertford Buddhist Sangha we have strong links with the Triratna Buddhist Community and especially with the Cambridge Buddhist Centre which offers a full and varied programme for anyone interested in meditation and Buddhism - click on the link on this page for more information.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Meditation in Hertford

There's been a lot of publicity recently about meditation, with items on breakfast television which included a meditator lying in a scanner, demonstrating the positive effects of meditation on brain activity. A young man who works at the Scarborough Sea Life centre was interviewed after trying a course of mindfulness meditation and he too reported that he was less distracted and felt calmer after meditation practice.

You don't have to join a religious tradition to practice meditation and feel the positive mental health benefits. But it helps to practice with a group of like minded people who can give you support to work through the first weeks when keeping up with the practice can be difficult.

As you continue with your meditation practice you may feel like you hit a wall, become discouraged and drop it. The best strategy for continuing meditation practice is to come to a group regularly, a group like the Hertfordsangha, who meet every Tuesday evening, 7.15pm at the Millbridge Room opposite the Castle Theatre. You dont have to be a Buddhist to come and try meditation, and you don't have to stay for the whole meeting. Just come for the first hour and some tea and chat. You are welcome!

Monday, 25 October 2010

On Saturday 23rd October, the Triratna Buddhist Community in Hertford gave a public demonstration of meditation at Bircherly Green Shopping Centre from 10 to 12am. Here's Rory and friends outside Boots the Chemist. Our local group were supported by four others from the Cambridge Buddhist Centre. Passing shoppers stopped to ask about meditation and were invited to 'come and see'. We could hear children asking "What are they doing?" and some Mums replying "Sleeping!" whilst others said "Meditating". We gave out about 100 leaflets about our activities and made a new friend when a photojournalism student stopped by to take some pics and said he would definitely come at the end of term. The weather wasn't too cold but we were all glad to finish the morning with a warming coffee at Serendipity cafe.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Street meditation in Hertford

On Saturday 23rd October and again on Saturday 6th November, Buddhists in Hertford will be giving a public demonstration of meditation at Bircherly Green Shopping Centre from 10.15 to 12.15. Anyone who wants to have a go is welcome to join us. Meditation is good for calming and concentrating the mind, creating inner peace and space for personal development. Meditation in a shopping centre throws into contrast the business of our everyday lives and shows us how to restore harmony to our experience.

The Hertford Buddhist Sangha is a local group affiliated to the Triratna Buddhist Community. We meet every Tuesday evening to practice meditation at the Mill Bridge Rooms in Maidenhead Yard from 7.15 - 9.30pm. There are over 50 local Triratna Buddhist Community groups in Britain and activities in about 30 countries around the world. To find out about your local group, visit www.hertfordsangha.blogspot.com or phone 07754 - 930902 or email hertfordsangha@aol.co.uk

Monday, 6 September 2010

Buddhafield East

Buddha-kᚣetra ( Sanskrit, Buddha-field ).
The sphere of influence and activity of a Buddha.


The last August bank holiday weekend each year plays host to this beautiful event in Suffolk which is part retreat and part festival. It has quickly become one of the highlights of my year; expansive in it's teachings and practices of Buddhism yet small enough to eat meals with everyone there, choose from one of the many fascinating workshops and also to stay warm enough round a beautiful evening fire.

My intial Buddhafield East last summer transpired to be the first time ever that I had arrived at an event not knowing anyone there, yet immediately felt completely at ease. Incredible! The team of volunteer organisers have created such a uniquely relaxed and accepting atmosphere that you can't help but feel connected to the whole event and the community of people sharing it.

A typical day in the Buddhafield may begin by waking early for a 7.30am meditation in the Rainbow Shrine tent. It is always a joy to meditate with others but there is something extra special about doing so shortly after waking from a nights sleep. Breakfast cooked by the crew would then be served and leisurely tea enjoyed around the fire before a collective meeting to establish the days events and workshops.

On retreat I always like to participate in the voluntary workgroups which involve anything you choose; from preparing food, composting, supporting the children's area or washing up. It is always so good to get to know other people through sharing a task and participating in the running of the festival creates a harmonious feel amongst the community.

This year Saddhaloka (author of 'Encounters with Enlightenment') gave captivating daily talks on aspects of the Dharma, enchantingly bringing to life stories from the Pali Canon, which was followed by small Order member led discussion groups. Both the talks and the discussion groups provide an excellent opportunity to deepen understanding and pose questions which arise.

The afternoons are resplendent with an array of workshops to select from, including energy workshops, yoga, capoeira, Non-Violent Communication, singing, drumming and there are three different healing tents from which you can experience a free shiatsu session included in the ticket price. How amazing is that! I haven't even mentioned the children's activities scheduled throughout the day but bringing children is an absolute joy with the freedom for kids to play safely and also come together to create some of the most hilarious yet simultaneously poignant drama productions on the life of the Buddha. With a four or five piece Eastern European accompaniment too!

Relaxing evenings spent in the sauna, hot tubs, singing around the fire, sharing moments and laughter really create the depth of a wider Sangha. All of it produced by the dedication of a team of volunteers so committed to co-creating the positive sphere of influence of the three jewels in which all can develop.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Meditation myths

Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakens. - Carl Jung.

The following article appeared in the Buddhist Blog and was so interesting it required passing on!

Written by Ronald Alexander, Ph.D. Author, Wise Mind, Open Mind

The majority of my clients resist mindfulness meditation at first, although the time commitment is small and the payoff is enormous. One insisted that it wasn't necessary and that she didn't have enough time in her day to devote to a regular practice. Then she went through the loss of a parent, and had such trouble coping that she couldn't even drag herself out of bed. After missing work 10 days straight, she called me for my advice. I told her to mindfully meditate while in bed. Terrified and bewildered, my client did and, in a few days, found that she could face going to work again. After that, whenever she was in an overwhelming state of grief or so distracted that she couldn't focus, she would close her door, tell her assistant to hold all her calls and do a five minute meditation. Slowly, her grief lessened.

Typically, those who resist meditation are buying in to one of the following four common myths from my book, "Wise Mind, Open Mind" that create resistance to regular mindfulness meditation practice.

Myth 1: "I'm too restless and busy to learn to be quiet and practice any form of meditation." Just 20 minutes on a meditation cushion twice each day will cause you to be more productive and less distracted, and make the most of your time during the day. When you first begin to meditate, you're likely to experience many mental distractions. Rather than judge yourself, simply observe any disruptive thoughts, feelings or sensations and set them aside. You'll never have complete freedom from distractions, but with practice, it'll be easier to quickly turn down the volume on them. As your concentration abilities increase, so will your mindstrength. Quickly, you'll discover that you can simply rest and relax into the moment, enjoying the sense of spaciousness and abundance.

Myth 2: "If I practice mindfulness, it will put out the fire of my ambition and creativity." Mindfulness practice seems to ground restless people, transforming their energy from a chaotic, even manic, discharge to a more focused and heightened exuberance that then can be channeled into productivity. If you're uncomfortable with the thought of slowing down your mental output because you think you'll lose something valuable, keep in mind that this is not the goal of mindfulness practice. Instead, this approach will allow you to access some of the vitality and passion you associate with mania.

Myth 3: "If I practice mindfulness, what I'll discover will be so upsetting that I'll become paralyzed with fear." The fear of what will arise from the subconscious isn't entirely irrational, but the chances of experiencing intense discomfort while mindfully meditating are slim. Emotions that remain buried have no chance of dissipating, and will remain as an underlying toxin that affects the functioning of the mind and body. If you've been avoiding painful feelings and thoughts for a long time, you may not be able to handle more than a five-minute-long session of mindfulness meditation initially, and you may need someone with you to support you in your process of uncovering this pain. A skilled psychologist or mindfulness meditation teacher can be enormously helpful in guiding you through these emotions and modulating their intensity.

Myth 4: "Practicing mindfulness meditation will conflict with my religious beliefs." The practice of mindfulness meditation is free of religious and spiritual dogma. In fact, if you believe in turning to God for guidance, you can use mindfulness meditation to set aside distractions and listen to the divine wisdom that can be found only when you tune out the endless chain of thoughts your own mind creates. This form of meditation turns down the volume of the chatter in your mind and allows you to tune in to deeper wisdom and insight. Mindfulness practice is a pathway to discovery that any of us can use, regardless of our religious or spiritual beliefs.

By cultivating mindfulness, you allow yourself to hear even the subtlest messages from the unconscious. You can be awakened with a gentle nudge instead of a splash of icy water. Embracing your circumstances despite the pain, you can craft a fulfilling life that's infused with passion and originality, driven by a sense of purpose, and in sync with your values and priorities.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Tuesday 3rd August

Hello,

This weeks meditation and discussion led by Rob was particularly special as we were visited by Padmajata who we met at Cambridge Buddhist Centre on Dharma Day. In fact Padmajata has said that she would be able to attend for the next six weeks in support of the Hertford Sangha, which is wonderful.

A mindfulness of breathing practice was followed by a continuation of the theme of the Dharma, which led to some lovely insightful discussion of some of the stories of the Dharma, we closed with a Metta Bhavana practice.

Meanings of the Dharma

Sangharakshita has said that there are five meanings of the term The Dharma as that there is no one English word to translate it. These are:

1. 'Things' or any phenomemon.
2. A mental object; anything that arises in the mind, one of the six senses.
3. A state or condition of existence; the Eight Worldly Winds (Lokadharmas).
4. Law, principle or truth. Dhammapada says hatred only ceases by love.
5. Doctrine or teaching. 'Dharma' (Sanskrit) or 'Dhamma' (Pali) is the teachings of the Buddha; the buddha Dharma, the Dharma Vinaya.


The Source of the Dharma


The source of the Buddha Dharma is the Buddha's enlightenment experience and the cardinal doctrine is Buddha’s teaching of Conditioned Co-production (pratitya samutpada). Common to all schools of Buddhism, it states that phenomena arise together in a mutually interdependent web of cause and effect.

From the Dharma, this teaching of Conditioned Co-production is described in the story of a young monk who when asked, as was common in those times, 'what is your Dharma and who is your teacher?' he replied:

This being, that becomes.
From the arising of this, that arises.
This not becoming, that does not become.
From the ceasing of this, that ceases.


There are two types of conditionality;
Cyclical conditionality - reacting between pairs of opposites and illustrated by the Wheel of Life.



Spiral conditionality - the path leading to Nirvana - the Four Noble truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.



Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Dharma Day 25th July

So with more grounded experience of the Dharma than before, it was the perfect opportunity to attend the Dharma Day celebrations with Rob at Cambridge Buddhist Centre. The day began with a mindfulness of the breath meditation in the shrine room, which was full beyond capacity, so much so there were people meditating in the courtyard beyond the French windows! It was a great start to the day which was followed by a wonderful talk by Saddharaja and being Dharma Day the theme was ‘the Enlightened One speaks’.

Not only a very experienced meditator and Triratna Order member; having been ordained some 20 years ago, Saddharaja was a very accomplished and humourous speaker. So it was that he brought to life the first sermon of the Buddha after his enlightenment called the Dharmachakra Sutta which means ‘the establishment of wisdom’ or ‘the wheel of truth’ which is the eight-spoke wheel symbolising the core teachings of Buddhism and the path to enlightenment.



For a factual account of this first sermon, without unfortunately the wit and personality provided by Saddharaja, copy and paste this link into your browser. Although we should bear in mind that it will not have been as easy as this bare-bones/no-messing/question-answer format belies.

www.vimokkha.com/firstsermon.html

The remainder of the day for us after an outstanding shared lunch was filled with very engaging and informative talks from outreach teams that go to Letchworth and Peterborough promoting the work of outreach to communities who have no near-by access to a Buddhist Centre.

This was of course a perfect introduction for Rob who then presented a wonderful insight to everyone there as to the existence and vision of the Hertford Sangha, and an appeal for help from Order members who would like to bring their skills and time to support us.

So happy days, we left Cambridge after a wonderful Dharma Day with three offers of support including the younger Sangha who organise successful street meditation in Cambridge proposing to come to us! So watch this space and Hertford town centre on a Saturday morning here we come!

Dharma

I can’t remember when I first heard the word Dharma but I can remember never really understanding what it actually meant. Of course I knew that the Dharma was one of the Three Jewels along with the Buddha and the Sangha and that it had two primary meanings:
• The teachings of the Buddha which lead to enlightenment
• An ultimate and transcendent truth which is utterly beyond worldly things

Well quite truthfully, this all seemed somewhat intangible to me, almost ethereal, and my mind in trying to grasp a hold of what this meant just felt a little lost!

As a result I even went on my first week long meditation retreat with a big question mark over this Jewel. Despite many meditations and much talk on aspects of the Dharma, five days into the retreat my curiosity and confusion burned brighter than ever; I still did not know what the Dharma was. I had finally had enough and mustered up enough courage to just ask!

Of course as soon as I had decided I was ready to ask I had to do so there and then and set off through the retreat centre corridor to look for an order member. Quite by surprise no more than a few steps later the door opened into the corridor and through stepped Tarakarunya. Any other time I might have perceived that she was on her way to a meeting but not on this occasion no, so much to her astonishment as she passed me I blurted out ‘Tarakarunya, I’ve been wondering, what is the Dharma?’

The perceptible pause was enough to make me follow up my unsophisticated blurt with yet more blurt ‘Oh it’s not something that can be answered quickly is it?’

Fortunately Tarakarunya was very kind and advised me that Sangharakshita had even written a book called ‘What is the Dharma’ so no it wasn’t something that could be defined so succinctly there and then. This it seemed was indeed exactly what I needed to hear and I immediately let go of trying so hard. All this time I had been trying to understand conceptually something that was beyond concepts; my mind could not see what it did not understand. So, from that moment on I began to see that I didn’t have to try so hard to understand the Dharma I had to experience the Dharma.

From the Potthapada Sutta…

‘He preaches the Dhamma which is lovely in it’s beginning, lovely in it’s middle, lovely in it’s ending, in the spirit and in the letter…’

This is interpreted by Ayya Khema in ‘Who Is My Self’ as thus:

“A very important aspect of the Buddha’s teaching is his emphasis on meaning as well as words. It is relatively easy to know the texts; all we need to do is read a book and try to remember as much of it as we can….The spirit of the message…can only enter our hearts when we practice. Then we come to know exactly what the Buddha meant, and his guidelines become an integral part of our thoughts, speech and action. Until then, all we have are words and intellectual understanding.”

New blogger

Out of a wish to help and a deep respect for all the time, effort and expertise that Rob invests in the Hertford Sangha, when he asked me on a car journey to take over the blog I didn’t hesitate to say yes! As I was in fact driving at the time, what I had agreed to filtered slowly through my ‘helping perception filter’ (which had heard lots of ‘it’d be really useful/save so much time’ etc) and I realised what exactly was involved in ‘taking over the blog’.

So here I am connecting you all to the Hertford Sangha and meditation evenings. If you have ideas you’d like to share then please do, this can be as open a forum for discussion as you wish.

ms.leahcooper@yahoo.co.uk

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Our First Birthday!

Oh Happy Day! We celebrated our first birthday as a Hertford town centre meditation group last Tuesday 25th May. Although it's not strictly the first birthday of the group, it's enough past the exact date to confidently say 'Cheers'.

Friends of the FWBO and the Order of Interbeing were meeting irregularly in front rooms in Hertford for at least two years before the groups activities moved in April 2009 to the United Reform Church hall in Ware. A month later we moved to The Vaults in Hertford and then, in January 2010 to our present home, the Millbridge Room in Maidenhead Yard, Hertford. The date of the first recorded meeting in Hertford town centre was 12th May 2009. Since April 2009 then, Hertford Buddhist Sangha has met a total of 51 times in the town centre and seen altogether about 41 people through its doors. Initially our objective was to meet every week so that newcomers could rely on a regular meeting time and place. This has been achieved and to do this, we have together given about £700 to pay for room rental and other costs.

We have now taken a step forward as our confidence grows. Five people have made the committment to undertake the Triratna Buddhist Community Dharma training course, which involves not just home study and meditation but a monthly visit to Cambridge to meet with our teacher, Suvarnagarbha. We are being contacted regularly by people interested in trying meditation with us and we have good reason to hope that our Sangha will grow even more in 2010.

If you are interested in coming to meditation in Hertford, please
phone Rob on 07754-930902

Sunday, 11 April 2010

FWBO becomes Triratna Buddhist Community

An item from FWBO News 11th April
"In January FWBO News carried a story announcing that Sangharakshita had suggested a change of name to the Order and Movement, and that he had asked the Order and Movement to adopt the new names of the Triratna Buddhist Order and the Triratna Buddhist Community respectively.

Parami and Mahamati, the two International Order Convenors, have now written with confirmation that the Order has adopted Sangharakshita’s suggestion, and officially became the Triratna Buddhist Order on April 7th, the 42nd anniversary of the founding of the Order. They say “This means that we can celebrate the founding of the Western Buddhist Order and the renaming to the Triratna Buddhist Order on the same day now and in the future”.

The Movement is expected to follow suit, and indeed a ceremony to mark the adoption of the name “Triratna Buddhist Community” is being planned for the International Retreat at the end of May. Triratna means "Three Jewels", specifically the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, which are the central foci of a Buddhist's life and practice. They've long been represented in our logo and on the kesas worn by Order Members, so we're delighted that our name will now reflect them as well."

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

The Buddha's Noble Eightfold Path

The Noble Eightfold Path is the last of the Four Noble Truths taught by the Buddha. It offers us the way out of conditioned existence (samsara) and opens the way to Nirvana. Over the next 8 weeks we will be learning about the Noble Eightfold Path and you are welcome to join us any where along the way. No experience necessary!

The Noble Eightfold Path is often thought of as a path of 8 consecutive steps, but look at the meaning of the Sanskrit (Sk. Arya = noble, holy; asta = 8; anga = limb, member, shoot; marga = way, path). So it’s not a series of 8 stages but a method of spiritual development having 8 parts. You can start anywhere and work on more than one stage at once, but it’s better to start from a personal vision of spiritual reality.

Vision and Transformation
According to tradition the Eightfold Path divides into two successive stages; again we need to look at the original languages, Sanskrit and Pali to learn the ‘gist’ of each part.

Firstly, the path of Vision, Sk. darsana-marga (part 1, Right Understanding). Darsana is a sight, view or vision. This can arise for many people in different ways; a mystical experience, contact with nature, through meditation or devotional practice or through caring for others. Perfect Vision is an initial spiritual insight that grabs our emotions and sets us on the path to truth.

Secondly, the path of Transformation Sk. bhavana-marga (parts 2 – 8). Bhavana is development, change or transformation. This consists of the 2nd through to the 8th part of the Noble Eightfold Path. According to Sangharakshita in "Vision and Transformation" it “represents the transformation of one’s whole being...in accordance with that initial spiritual insight."
Sangharakshita

Links
Vision and Transformation’ by Sangharakshita, online at
www.sangharakshita.org/bookshelf/vision-transformation.pdf
Talk; “The Nature of Existence” from www.freebuddhistaudio.com

Monday, 22 February 2010

Unpacking the Four Noble Truths

The Four Noble Truths
The central teaching of the Buddha is like a present with many layers of wrapping. To realise its fundamental significance we have to investigate a number of topics.

The First Noble Truth
Whilst we all long for happiness, unsatisfactoriness and suffering (Dukkha) exist and are universally experienced. This needs to be understood.
Suffering (dukkha)
The three marks (laksanas) of conditioned existence; annica, dukkha, anata. Dependant origination; the five aggregates.

The Second Noble Truth
The three mental poisons (kilesas) , greed, hatred and delusion are the causes of dukkha.
Causes of suffering
Karma and rebirth. Samsara and the wheel of life

The Third Noble Truth
There is an end to unsatisfactoriness and suffering. The causes of suffering have to be abandoned if we want true lasting happiness.
Cessation of suffering
Enlightenment and Nirvana

The Fourth Noble Truth
The end can be attained by following the Noble Eightfold Path. This needs to be practiced if you wish to bring about an end to dukkha in your life and eventually gain Enlightenment and Nirvana.
The path to the cessation of suffering - The Noble Eightfold Path: Traditionally stated as Right View, Intention, Speech, Action, Livelihood, Effort, Mindfulness, Concentration. We will also be comparing this with Sangharakshita's presentation of the Noble Eightfold Path.

We will be learning about and discussing these topics in our second session 8.30 - 9.30pm from 23rd February to May 2010. See you at the Millbridge Room, Hertford for meditation and dharma talks.
Rob.
Email: hertfordsangha@aol.co.uk

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Floods at The Vaults

Groundwater has entered the basement rooms at The Vaults and they out of action until the weather dries and repairs are completed. We are now meeting at the Millbridge Room, which is between the Chicken Express takeaway and Martins newsagents, on Tuesday evenings. There are two sessions of meditation; for the first, come at 7.15pm for a 7.30 start and for the second, come at 8.15pm for an 8.30 start. Every Tuesday evening we will practice the Mindfulness of Breathing and the Development of Loving Kindness, and have time for talk and discussion around a topic from Buddhism.

Come to one session or to all, we will be glad to see you. There's no charge but we have to ask for donations to cover the cost of the room. See you there!

Saturday, 12 December 2009

The Brahma Viharas

Since September we have been following the theme of the Three Fold Path - that's Ethics, Meditation and Wisdom. Lately, we have been looking more closely at samatha meditation, to develop calm and concentration. During the first session every Tuesday, we practice the Mindfulness of Breathing to help calm our minds and concentrate on our breathing. After a break this is followed by the Development of Loving Kindness, a more imaginative samatha meditation, which helps us to develop friendliness and kindness for ourselves and others.

The Development of Loving Kindness is one of a set of four meditations called the Brahma Viharas, which are especially helpful to develop positive emotions and states of mind. They are the
Metta Bhavana - to develop loving kindness
Karuna Bhavana - to develop compassion
Mudita Bhavana - to develop sympathetic joy
Upekkha Bhavana - to develop positive equanimity

We are currently trying the Brahama Viharas on Tuesday evenings. You are welcome to join us and experience these meditations with us.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

Do you know the Way?

We're looking forward to seeing you at the next meeting of Hertford Buddhist Sangha, downstairs at 33 The Vaults, in The Wash, Hertford on Tuesdays at 7.15pm. It's opposite the 'Six Templars' Weatherspoons pub. If you don't know the way in, you need to go down the passage at the side of The Lounge cafe, through the doors of no.33 and down the stairs.

We offer two sessions in the evening, at 7.15pm and 8.15pm as we have found that some can't come early and some can only come late ! In the first session we will practice the Mindfulness of Breathing and, in the second, the Development of Loving Kindness. Come to one or both, we will be pleased to see you. If you arrive a bit late for a session, just quietly come in and join us. We meet every Tuesday evening at the Vaults, with the exception of the main school holidays. All sessions are suitable for beginners and you don't need to be a Buddhist to participate.

Over the last few months we have been looking at the Threefold Path - that's the path of Ethics, Meditation and Wisdom. We have read about and discussed Buddhist Ethics - the 5 Precepts and the 5 Dharmas. Next Tuesday, we will be practising meditation and, for our discussion topic, looking at the second stage of the Threefold Path, Meditation. In particular, we will be looking at setting up the conditions for meditation and, in weeks to come, practising different kinds of meditation.

Hope to see you on Tuesday evenings then!

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Photos from the Retreat at Buckden Towers

We did lots of meditation and had some fun too! You can see Peter Bentley's photos here.

Saturday, 29 August 2009

Autumn Retreat at Buckden Towers 16th -Sun 18th October 2009

'Going for Refuge to the Three Jewels....what does it mean?'.

Dear Friends,

Just a reminder that we have our Autumn Retreat coming up at Buckden Towers with Friends from FWBO Letchworth.

The dates will be Friday 16th -Sun 18th October. We will start at 6pm on the Friday and finish at around 3pm on the Sunday. If anyone wants a lift from Hertford or Ware, ask Rob.

What’s a Retreat?
It’s a chance to get away from the hurly burly of everyday life, to spend more time with Buddhist Friends, meditating in beautiful surroundings, practicing and sharing in community living. It‘s open to anyone interested in meditation and who wants to find out more about Buddhism. The Retreat will be led by Aryadhara, a member of the Western Buddhist Order. On the Retreat, we will have a chance to explore what it really means to be a Buddhist, and how we can put it into practice in our lives. We share together in meditation practice, walks in the beautiful grounds, discussion, reflection and cooking. All food is vegetarian. If you have a special diet, please advise.

There will be one talk on the Saturday morning, as well as opportunities for group discussion, silent reflection, reading and, of course, meditation and puja.

The cost of the weekend is £80 /£60 concessions. The fee covers the hire of the premises and the purchase of food. An advance deposit is requested, the remainder is payable on arrival.

Buckden Towers is the ancient and historic castle of the Catholic Bishops of Lincoln. We will be staying in the castle keep. Sleeping accommodation, accessed by ascending the stone spiral staircases, consists of two double bunk dormitories, one for men and one for women. The dungeon has been converted to a large kitchen/dining room and on the first floor is a large meeting room, which will be our shrine room for the weekend.

Buckden Village is located on the A1 about 32 miles north of Stevenage. For more about the history of Buckden Towers, see http://www.buckden-village.co.uk/


We expect that it will be a vibrant and refreshing weekend for all.

For more information, please contact me, Rob Mew.
Email: hertfordsangha@aol.com
Mobile: O7754 - 930902

Monday, 17 August 2009

Poetry is Awareness

Do you love visiting the woods? Do you catch a moment of mindfulness, just watching the leaves?

When All Thoughts

When all thoughts
Are exhausted
I slip into the woods
And gather
A pile of sheperds purse.

Like the little stream
Making its way
Through the mossy crevices
I, too, quietly
Turn clear and transparent.


Ryokan Taigu 1758 - 1831


for more, Google 'Ryokan'

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

Date Correction

Sorry folks! Yes, we will resume on Tuesday 1st September, same time and place.
See you there!

Saturday, 8 August 2009

August Holiday Break

We are taking a holiday break in August. We are not meeting on Tuesdays 18th and 25th August but will resume weekly meditation meetings on Tuesday 2nd September, at the usual time and place - that's 7.15pm, at 33 The Vaults, The Wash, Hertford, SG14 1PT.

See you there!

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

What is Buddhism?

Here's a question that comes up regularly - what is Buddhism? Who was the Buddha and what is this Dharma that we speak of? What about the Sangha?

The Buddha was a man, born Siddhattha Gotama in northern India about 2,500 years ago. It's important to understand that he was just a human being, like you and me. He was not a god, or a celestial being, just a guy who, in his thirties, achieved an understanding about reality, about life and his place in the universe. We call this achievement enlightenment or nirvana and he went on to teach his understanding and how to practise it for the next forty years.

This teaching is called the Dharma and it is a practice - we practise the Dharma in the way we think and act in our life. Buddhism is not a belief system, it is a hands-on, find-out-for-ourselves system; we discover what works and doesn't work. Indeed, the Buddha himself told people not to blindly accept his teachings, but to try them out and only then accept them if they were of use.

People who practise the Dharma and ultimately, have made a commitment to do so are called Buddhists and these Buddhists make up what is called the Sangha. A sangha is a group of like-minded people who come together to meditate, discuss the Dharma or perform Buddhist ceremonies. The Sangha supports the individual is his or her practice.

These three things, the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha, are collectively called The Three Jewels because, like real jewels, they are incredibly precious. As Buddhists, we place the three jewels at the heart of our practice which is why, if you come along to the Hertford Sangha, you will see a Buddha rupa (statue), a book of the Buddha's teachings and a photograph or similar representing the Sangha.

Please feel free to ask questions when you come along, it's always great to be able to talk about this to people who are eager to learn.

If you want to find out more, you can visit www.fwbo.org/buddhism.html for lots more information.

By the way, although we don't know what the Buddha actually looked like, that fat, laughing Buddha that so often carries his name is not the historical Buddha, but a Chinese monk called Budai.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

You can come earlier or later !

You are welcome to come to the earlier session (7.15 - 8.15) or to the later session (8.15 - 9.30), or to stay for the whole evening. We usually practice meditation in both sessions.

We learn and practice mainly two concentration meditations; the Mindfulness of Breathing (Anapanasati) and the Development of Loving Kindness (Metta Bhavana) . There's opportunities to learn about the Dharma and we also find time for refreshments - free! - and chat.

Monday, 29 June 2009

Welcome to the Hertford Sangha

Welcome to the Hertford Sangha blog. We meet every Tuesday (details to the right) and the evening is broken down as follows:

From 7.15 to 8.15 we introduce ourselves, explain one of the two meditations we practise and then sit in meditation for about half an hour. Don't worry if you've never done this before, we'll tell you what to do. You don't need to be a Buddhist to come for this, meditation is suitable for all people of all ages. If you have your own meditation cushion, please bring it along.

From 8.15 to 9.15 we'll explain the other meditation practise and then sit for about 20 minutes or so. We'll also discuss aspects of the Dharma which is the Buddha's teachings. If you're not a Buddhist, you're welcome to stay, but there is no obligation.

You are welcome to attend either, or both, sessions. Admission is free but a donation to help cover the cost of the room is always welcome.

We're a small, friendly group and we always welcome new people. If you're interested, please come along one evening and find out more.